Lisa Jean Kelly

  • "Will never forget your beautiful smile......"
    - Kelly L.
  • "We will always hear your voice in the soft breeze."
    - Cadence O'Connor
  • "Lisa was a karate student of mine for a short time at my..."
  • "never ever out of mind. loving you every second of the day...."
    - barbara nagle
  • "Forever Loved, Forever Young"
    - Rich B

Lisa Kelly, 27; created stirring 'breezes'

Lisa Kelly's 6-year-old daughter will always know the story of rabbits.

The children's story, which Lisa wrote about a year ago, says that sometimes rabbits leave behind friends. They join other rabbits in a place called the Great Meadow, not seen but never far away, like a "cool breeze upon your ears."

The breezes are symbols, living memories. Lisa, 27, left many behind. There are the five tiny vases filled with red carnations on the vanity in her Swansea home. Her mother sees them, then sees so much more.

"I can just picture her putting on her makeup, getting ready to go out," says her mother, Barbara Nagle of Attleboro. "They are still there in those little vases. They are beautiful, like she was."

Barbara can look back in time and see Lisa playing soccer and running track at Attleboro High School, in the town where she grew up.

Then she can jump to today. There is the Chinese song that Lisa's daughter, Zoe Jean, sings. She learned it at the Montessori Children's School in Providence. Lisa, a single mom, worked hard to afford it.

"She did it all by herself. Nobody helped her pay for anything," Barbara says.

There are Lisa's teas with Zoe Jean on the East Side of Providence, or the Thai food, or the rock 'n' eat atmosphere of Johnny Rockets restaurant. And the many meals at Dave and Buster's. Barbara can't forget. She is caring for one of the stuffed animals Lisa won there. She also takes care of Lisa's many pets, including two cats, Lucky and Black Sabbath -- after one of the first heavy-metal bands.

Yes, breezes are blowing. But the breezes, the memories of Lisa's life, vary widely.

Some are tranquil, like yoga lessons Lisa taught at the Montessori Children's School, at a North Attleboro school and was set to teach at a Warwick karate school.

Some are adventurous, like last summer when Lisa took Zoe Jean to the Ozzfest concert. Headlining the heavy-metal show was Ozzy Osbourne, once the bane of moms everywhere until he converted to a reality TV dad.

Some are simply shared experience. Barbara is grateful for the time Lisa took her to Disney World in Florida where they saw Cirque du Soleil perform impossible moves. And working together to plant that Japanese garden at Lisa's house, the one with irises and a little Japanese maple tree.

But there is also something more permanent than memories. Between yoga and heavy metal, Lisa wrote things down in journals. When Barbara, Zoe Jean and some 300 people went to Lisa's funeral and wake, they heard some of Lisa's poems. Then, like the rabbits in Lisa's story, they could hear her, feel her close.

In the story, rabbits Henry and Sara are best friends who "shared secrets and lots of laughs," Lisa wrote, under a large oak tree in the meadow where they lived. One day, Sara was too tired to play anymore and Henry found a final, special resting place for her. He cried.

"One day," Lisa wrote, "while on his way to the big oak tree, Henry felt a strange breeze across his face and whiskers. Then it circled around his ears. It felt like a big soft hug."

-- Michael P. McKinney, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003
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